Video/Transcript: Tom Crean Postgame Presser – Georgia vs. Tennessee

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Video/Transcript: Tom Crean Postgame Presser – Georgia vs. Tennessee

On the game and field goal percentages…

“They had more open shots, especially in the first half, because we were not communicating very well in transition. They’re a very good passing team and they spaced the ball well, they played four guards tonight, and they made the next pass because we didn’t get the ball stopped. We didn’t match up a couple of times, communication wise. The things that hurt us in the first half, we did much better on in the second half. We did not challenge shots with any type of real force, we short armed, didn’t extend, and we tried to draw fouls on the layups. In the second half we attacked, went to the rim better and weren’t going to the rim for contact. We were going to make the play and the layup. Because we were more aggressive, we got more rewarding at the foul line. That’s what we need to do. We’ve got to outgrow coming into a game and not being as vocal and understand how long and hard these games are. You’ve got to keep bringing your very best, communication wise, because that creates everything. Your energy, connectivity creates everything and we’ve just got to get it to where it’s part of our habits.”

On how they can have the same energy in the first half as they did in the second…

“If I had that answer, we would have had it. We’ve had it the last three games. The sky isn’t falling because we didn’t have it at one point early on tonight. We’ve just got to understand the level of consistency that is has to be at. Again, it’s the challenging shots, communication and transition. We have to play with force for 40 minutes, be aggressive for 40 minutes, and it’s amazing, we were playing faster in the second half with less turnovers. That’s just what we have to do. We’ve got to be able to establish that when the offense is going and play aggressively on defense.”

On if he was encouraged on how they rallied or discouraged on how they started…

“I don’t get either one. I don’t ever get discouraged, and I’m a realist on what we have to do to get better and get ready for Alabama. I’m not discouraged at all, every day I understand what we’re capable of, I just want them to understand what we’re capable of and how hard it is. It’s a lot harder when you’re not as aggressive or verbal like you need to be at the beginning. We’re learning and we need to do that. The example I give to them is that we can score at the beginning of the clock, we’re pretty efficient in the middle, and we know how to play at the end. It’s the same thing defensively, you’ve got to have the same level of communication and activity in transition, so you don’t give up something in the middle. Then you bear down even more at the end and you’ve got to be able to do it time and time again. The only way you get that done is to have that connectivity that comes through communication. It provides a level of energy, you’re basically spending the game reminding your teammates new things. When you remind them, you call out screen, ball those type of things. That’s where we’ve got to be.”

On K.D. Johnson earning more minutes…

“He’s been playing a lot of minutes, the thing is he played more aggressively tonight which kept him on the court, and he didn’t have any foul trouble. K.D. is, I think I’ve said this before, a lot like when Anthony Edwards came in, and other guards I’ve had, are used to having the ball in their hands all the time in high school. Anthony was able to work out a lot of that in November and December. By mid-January he was really good at moving without the basketball. You could get him on cuts, you could do those types of things. He’d get off the slot, he’d cut around the corner, he’d get denied more than most people we’ve had. He really understood the cutting game. It takes time, K.D. is learning on the fly and obviously we work on it in practice, but it’s a whole different deal when you’re working on it in a game. Him being able to move without the basketball and attack with the ball, there were a couple of times in the first half where he just didn’t attack. He didn’t catch it and go. That’s what we want him to do, because he’s like a little bull. He’s hard to stay in front of and he’s hard to deal with when he gets to the rim, because of his strength. He’s good like that, but there’s too many times where he’s standing and waiting rather than attacking. So, we’re certainly a much better team when he’s playing the way he did tonight and in the second half. It’s a learning process, that’s all part of it. He’s been eligible for four weeks so it’s a definite learning process, and in a short season like we have right now nonconference wise, but then also a shorter deal for him those things take time.”

On Andrew Garcia…

“He was able to go back in the game. He has an injury that we’re able to deal with in his nose. I don’t know exactly where we’re at with it, but he was able to go back in the game. Hopefully, we will continue to do that.”

On the team’s energy and motivation in the second half…

“They did show it. But, we must understand that we have to bring the same type of aggressiveness in the first half. That is what we have done when we have been successful. It has never been about perfect basketball or lack turnovers—those things are part of it. The game is so long. It is that belief, but it starts with your communication and level of awareness. We just keep pointing it out. I pointed it out in the locker room tonight, we will point it out at halftime, we will point it out at film. We just keep trying to get better and better.”

On what part of his game plan worked or didn’t work in defending Tennessee’s Jaden Springer…

“We did not get on his right hand enough; I’ll give you that. Without getting into the whole game plan, we didn’t get on his right hand enough. He is a tremendous driver. They are a much better team when he is in there. He got to the rim which is the biggest thing. He got to the rim which put him at the foul line too. But the biggest thing with him is, you cannot let him just attack you with his right hand because he is so good with it. In a nutshell, that is what hurt us a few times.”

On why Tennessee had such success with three point shooting…

“Yeah, it was the transition defense in the first half. In the first half, it was more transition, and we missed a couple of bumps in the zone where our guards did not bump the bigger guys down. But, the majority of it was transition.”

On what the team has to do to cut down on turnovers…

“Make better passes. Make simpler plays. That is what we have to do. We have to hit singles not home runs.”

On the team’s performance relying on their confidence…

“I think a lot of it. That is why I am so adamite about communication and talking to one another. Talking makes everything go up; it drives your confidence, it drives your energy up, and drives your connectivity up. It is the way it has to be. Getting communication is a universal problem for every coach, some may have mastered it, but every coach goes through this in this day and age. Eventually, the coach has to figure out that it is not that hard when you get back even if it is flying that you get back, look for the open man and that you communicate as you are getting down the court. You have to ask who has the rim and who has the ball? We work on it every day. It has to permeate consistently. The teams in the country where it permeates consistently have a much better chance to win. We have to continue to drive that because we have had that and had it in pretty good stretches. But, I said at the beginning that our margin for error because of our lack of size is not high. Those types of things must happen, then the confidence comes from that. We cannot navigate the game and say, ‘Well, I’ll be excited because I made a shot or because we made a couple of buckets.’ It is very natural whether it is NBA, college, or high school, or whatever it is you will play at a much higher level most of the time when you are scoring or when your team is scoring, but that is not realistic. You will go through ruts. You will go through the ebbs and flows of a game. You cannot let it wander away with your aggressiveness, your communication, your aggressiveness on the ball, or your aggressiveness challenging shots. “

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